|Todays Gospel and reflection||John 7:40-52|
|The Law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without hearing him|
The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” John 7:46
The guards and many others were in awe of Jesus, amazed at the words He spoke. These guards were sent to arrest Jesus at the order of the chief priests and Pharisees, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to arrest Him. They were rendered powerless in the face of the “awe factor” Jesus enjoyed.
When Jesus taught, there was something communicated beyond His words. Yes, His words were powerful and transforming, but it was also the way in which He spoke. It was hard to explain but it’s clear that, when He spoke, He also communicated a power, a calm, a conviction, and a presence. He communicated His Divine Presence and it was unmistakable. People just knewthis man Jesus was different than all the rest and they hung on His every word.
God still communicates to us this way. Jesus still speaks to us with this “awe factor.” We simply need to be attentive to it. We should strive to be attentive to the ways that God speaks in a clear and convincing way, with authority, clarity and conviction. It may be something someone says, or it may be an action of another that touches us. It may be a book we read, or a sermon we listen to. Whatever the case may be, we should look for this awe factor because it is there we will find Jesus Himself.
Interestingly, this awe factor also invited extreme criticism. Those with a simple and honest faith responded well, but those who were self-centered and self-righteous responded with condemnation and anger. They were clearly jealous. They even criticized the guards and others who were impressed by Jesus.
Reflect, today, upon the ways that God has left you in awe of His message and His love. Seek out His voice of conviction and clarity. Tune into the way God is trying to communicate and pay no attention to the ridicule and criticism you may experience when you do seek to follow His Voice. His Voice must win out and draw you in so that you can savor everything He wishes to say.
Lord, may I be attentive to Your unmistakable Voice and to the authority with which You speak. May I be amazed at all You wish to say. And as I listen to You, dear Lord, give me the courage to respond with faith regardless of the reaction of others. I love You, dear Lord, and desire to be transfixed upon Your every Word, listening with wonder and awe. Jesus, I trust in You.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Alumni Association Board
The truth can be unsettling, especially when it comes from unexpected or unwelcome sources.
Everyone in the crowd acknowledges the truth of Jesus’ teachings, yet many still question his authority based on their preconceptions. Are we inclined, like the Pharisees, to dismiss uncomfortable truths by discrediting the speaker, even to the point of condemning them without a hearing? In our hyper-politicized age, do we fail to fairly engage those whose political views differ from ours, preferring instead to denigrate their authority or motivation and retreat to the comfort of “our own houses”?
Confronted with demanding truths, I too sometimes question the source. My Pastoral Associate clearly does not understand the time commitment of my law practice when she invites me to serve as an RCIA sponsor. My wife doesn’t fully appreciate the uncertainties of retirement planning when she challenges me to increase our financial commitment in support of a struggling Catholic school.
We can recognize truth and still resist the demands it makes of us. The truth of Christ’s teachings often calls for personal change. Our Lenten journey began with the Ash Wednesday admonition to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”— a call to conversion. Lent is our opportunity to accept the Gospel more fully and to align our lives with its truth. I’m still working on it.
Lord Jesus, you know well that our spirits are willing to follow you, but we are often overwhelmed by worldly desires. In your great love, send your Holy Spirit to drive out all that separates us from obeying your holy will. May we always see in you the way, the truth, and the life that leads to heaven, and may you give us the courage to help lead our brothers and sisters to eternal happiness with you. Amen.